PBS Authority Line – provisions for outages

26 May 2016

Any doctor who prescribes PBS ‘authority required’ medicines knows that the authority approvals phone line has been plagued with outages and other network problems in recent months. But most doctors don’t know that ‘emergency provisions’ apply if there is an outage or other reason the approvals phone line isn’t available.

When the emergency provisions are in effect doctors can prescribe up to the maximum quantity and repeats as specified on the current PBS schedule. Due to legislative requirements, you must still try to call 1800 888 333 in the first instance. You also need to endorse the prescription with the words ‘Emergency authorised by the Department of Human Services Medicare Program’ and note the time and date you tried to call.

For drugs on the Highly Specialised Drug Program, doctors also need to mark the prescription with the letters ‘HSD’, the hospital prescriber number, and number of days treatment.

Unfortunately, for increased quantities or repeats, you will still have to call back at a later time to get the authority approval.

The AMA is also urging doctors to write to their medical practice software provider to include an online Authority approvals interface in prescribing software. Following AMA lobbying, online authorities will be a option from 1 July this year (but only via HPOS initially).